Saudi Arabia, Kuwait commit $1.34 bn for Gaza rebuilding


Dubai : Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Monday announced $1.34 billion in aid for relief and reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip where Israeli attacks over the last three weeks have claimed over 1,300 Palestinian lives.

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Saudi ruler King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz announced $1 billion for a Gaza reconstruction initiative launched by Arab leaders at the two-day Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit, which got under way in Kuwait Monday, the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.

Speaking at the opening session, King Abdullah said: “The bloody scenes and genocide in Gaza, witnessed over the past days under the sight of world, was taking place on hands of heartless, inhuman gang that had forgotten that the Old Testament called for ‘an eye for an eye’, and not an eye for a city-full of eyes.”

“Israel must realise that choice between peace and war will not always be open to it, and the Arab peace initiative will not always remain on the table,” the Saudi monarch said.

While hailing the Palestinian heroes in Gaza, he also renewed the call to exert more pressure on Israel to end bloodshed, especially under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

King Abdullah said political conflicts within Arab states have also helped “the Israeli enemy and all those who want to divide the Arab stance at expense of our aspirations”.

Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah while condemning the Israeli invasion of Gaza announced that Kuwait would contribute $34 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) immediate needs in Palestinian territories.

“Our weaponless families in Gaza are facing an atrocious Israeli aggression targeting innocents and demolishing all pillars of life,” Al-Sabah said.

Apart from the over 1,300 killed, the Israeli attacks on Hamas-held Gaza, which started Dec 27, have also left injured 5,300 people and caused massive damage to infrastructure and property.

A unilateral ceasefire from both sides took effect Monday amidst reports that Israel will move its troops out of Gaza ahead of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th US President Tuesday.

As expected, the situation in Gaza topped the agenda of the Arab summit in Kuwait.

The two-day conference, a major Arab initiative amid the global financial crisis, would address issues like poverty, health, education, employment and water, among others.

It is the first-of-a-kind since the establishment of the Arab League, and was first called by the Kuwaiti ruler and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the 2007 Arab Summit in Riyadh, and is aimed at setting up a clear roadmap for Arab economy and all related social and developmental issues.

According to observers, the summit may lead to the formation of a new Arab economic bloc.

Leaders of 22 Arab countries as also UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are attending the summit.